Book Review on Parneet Jaggi Show Me How Not to Grow

‘Show Me How Not to Grow’. the third collection of poems by Parneet  Jaggi, finds  a  more  meditative voice  here,  a kind of vastness during the passage of life without trading on  ordinary  subjects.  There  are  many thoughts in her poems, which   begins   to   interrogate   the   difference   of purpose  and  goal  and  debates  the  routine  objectives  in life. In the end the poet has stitched a new constellation in free verse, a contemplative addiction into our mind.

In  her introduction, the  poet has rightly pointed out ‘The poems in the collection trace the journey of a human from compulsive   desires   of becoming something   to finally reaching  the  joyof being what  it  really  is.’ Her way  of looking  at life  are  at  times  imposingly  appealing  and intensely felt.  The  germane  theme,  the  lively  content,  the almost  flawless  form  and  technique-all  roll  into  a  mosaic that becomes a part of the essence in our existence.

It’s the manner, the mood and pitch; it’s the way of looking at things   that   makes   the   poet unique. Neither  the unfamiliar twist,  nor the  verbiage but  the unforced rhythms and illuminating  words  light  up  the pages   of   this   collection. Her thoughts   offer   us   this   solace that  we  can  rise  up  and  make our own  destiny. We  read  such poets because we want to know how a poetic intelligence inhabits the world.

Emily  Dickenson once  said  ‘Tell  all  the  truth  but  tell  it slant’. Parneet  works  where  being  is  not  contempt  and there is a strong feeling that the poet is a silent observer, a   noticer,   an   eavesdropper   of   things   unnoticed   or unheard.

Time loses its count

for the calendar

changes altogether days

no more exist as days

rather sacks full of stones

to be carried on backs

to destinations unknown(Time loses its count)

Parneet finds her way to nature but she promises nothing extraordinary.  The history  of  landscape  painting  lies  deep into what   face   to   present.A   dry   humour   also   kept breaking  in.  The  poet  here  strives  toward  a  style  that  will yield to the particulars of imagination.For this crafty poet,the feeling overflows and there is a frank admission in the beginning  and  finally  emerges  in  analytical  and  starker images.Equally compelling is the poem that demonstrates not exactly what it’s likebut  the  points  beyond  death  to oblivion.

A whole bag of lives s

till needed to learn

how to live,

to live happily

how to die,

to die happily

(Umbrella day)

Her poetry is soulful, engaging and her vein of expression is not just in a mere portrayal but lies in life lived through nature.  The  readers  will  find  pleasure  in  reading those poems which fill the empty spaces in life

All joys are your possessions.

Words now vulnific

worsen the scattered bruises

collected long

lying bare and abhorrent

waiting for winds to soothe. (Words)

The  poet  admits, ‘Poetry  gives  space  to  all  dimensions  of conscious living. It engulfs in its gamut-the wide range of visible  and  invisible  experiences  that  do  not  need  the crutches of thoughtful logic and a set of beliefs.

Breaths are counted

so are the moments.

May the divine moments

outnumber breaths! (Night went by)

There  is  no  tedium,  no  laziness in  this  poem,  it  generates only  the  flurry  of  excitement  and  sheer  energy. Showing what in retrospect seems likes considerable restraints, her poems are like a memory of what it is like growing up and come up like freedom as well as constraints and give us a through soaking.

There seems no exit.

Swirling, whirling

Dying within.


Parneet Jaggi is candid on her writing, ‘I  owe  the  most  to the  stream  of  consciousness  that  flows  inside  me  and finds  its  way  out  in  the  form  of  words  and  expressions.’ Sometimes the metaphor and simile rise to the mystical  empire and the images are both crispas well as clear-eyed.

The unwieldy basket

Intricately mixed with thoughts

of past, present, future

hangs over the head

causing pains in body,

I sort out to empty it (Unwieldy Basket)

The   poet   takes   her   readers   on   an   idiosyncratic   and wonderful  walk  through  her  joy  of  nature.  It  is  where  the human  imagination  gets  moulded  and  takes  flight  to  the unknown  destination.  Some of  her poems  never  seek  the new, as if what goes around, comes around.

Accomplishments awaited

in a world so vast.

A butterfly flying in the air

Watches ants,

Circumambulation in large circles

carrying their loads

reaching where they start. (Little Ant)

Her  matured  and  inventive poems are  an  amalgam  of hues   and   textures,   get   into   one   another   seamlessly introducing  a  new  dimension  to  rhythmic  narrative  of conscious living through love and unstoppable movements   back   toward light. She is   a meticulous observer  of the  surrounds and  finds  her expression  by attending  to  the tiny  moments  with  easy  authority.  Her poetic  virtues maintain  a  balancing  act  between  mystical and the moving. We are reminded of Tennyson, ‘I am a part of all that I have met’.

In a sky full of eagles

I feel like a dove


ding hiding places

here and there, (Dark Cave)

To  understand  the  joy  of  love,  the  poet  revels  in her brevity  and  imagery,  ‘Just  loving  flowers  relishing  nectar’. Here the  concept  is  the  occasion  to  get  things  going and in  the  following  poem it  turns  out  to be  a  reflection  on love,  imagining  how  it may  drop  down  for  its  joy. What strikes  me  most  in  her poems,  is  the  spark  and  power surge in reshaping love in our life. Her ‘basket of apples’ is always replacing ‘the basket of anxieties’,

Heart starves for dro

ps of love

if not showers,

shuts itself to the world

to wait for the clouds to burst,

heavens to smile,

open  the  locks  and  pour  nectars  of  love

(In  a World so New)

The  observations  drawn  from  her  poems  are  elegantly evocative  and  has  the  appearance  of effortlessness.  The language  is  utterly  simple  at  times  and  the  words  and sentences  are  laced  with  minimalism. Her  diligent  poem sketches all these in this sharp and highly charged poem,

We can’t help growing,

Show  me  how  not  to  grow.(Show  Me  How  Not to Grow)

The  most  important  thing  in  poetry  is  the  relevance  as Sylvia  Plath  always  talk  about.  Parneet’s  emotive, profound, relentlessly sonic poems that record beautifully the creative potential of the nature and the boundaries of the  self.  Everything  in  this  Universe  is  connected,  more than that, everything is infused or always infusing.

sounds are not hoarse

but soft as the fur of a rabbit

smiles pure as the whiteness of lily

emanating   from   all   around

(The   Tranquil


The   poet   believes in  ‘Just  flowing/Moments   of   flow/are moments of life,’ the nuances of which she seeks to explore and  does  not  want  to  miss  the  glorious  point  when  the tiny blades of grass sway in breeze.

Tiny blades of grass

sway unnoticed with

symphonies of the breeze.

Tall blades pose

for the passers by. (Tiny Blades of Grass…)

There is a productive nonconformity to her poems, finding surprise and  profundity  in  unpicking  objects,  phrases  and words which  are  the  natural  home  of  our  psyches,  a  part of our beauty.

Don’t let the waters flow down,

for they carry my jewels,

my collections of births,

I left them somewhere

in the midst of the river.

I gave you my pool

to grow a few lotuses

to  find  the  beauty  of  your  share.

(Don’t let  my pool go dry)

Satiating  hunger  of  lives  and  waiting  for dead  leaves  to revive  are  not  passing  thoughts.  The unfailing desires  to reveal, to listen and to explore are tested in her poems.

Passing by speedily

Leaving trees of memories

in the empty spaces of the mind

to stay there for years to come.:

(Trail of Trees)

Like  this,  there  are  several  gems  that  everyone  should read in this elegant and well-compiled collection. Poetry is meant  to  be  read  and  heard.  We  feel  a  powerful  sense  of connection in the end.

Parneet Jaggiis one of the most powerful voices amongst the  contemporary  Indian  poets  writing  in  English. The book  is  written  with  charm,  passion  and  fervour  and  is elevated by fluent and freewheeling style that’s made her an  accomplished  poet. Recapture, innocence, reflection –

‘Show Me How Not to Grow ‘is  a striking  meditation  on conscious living, for the all the joy of it. The  cover  page  design  is illuminating. And surely, it’s a must for every poetry lover’s bookshelf.

Title: Show Me How Not to Grow                  

Author: Parneet Jagg


Available: Amazon

Leave a Reply